In a rare joint statement issued this week, four United Nations (U.N.) agencies appealed on “countries in the Americas” to “uphold the fundamental human rights of Haitians” and urged nations to “refrain” from deporting vulnerable people “without proper assessment of their individual protection needs.”
“The U.N. and its partners are providing basic assistance to Haitians at various points en route and in Haiti. However, more needs to be done to address their profound vulnerabilities,” the U.N. Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the U.N. Human Rights Office said. “International law prohibits collective expulsions and requires that each case be examined individually to identify protection needs under international human rights and refugee law.”
The statement comes as the Biden administration deported more than 6,100 Haitians on nearly 60 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation flights in just 12 days. CBS News’ Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported that Thursday’s 773 deportations over seven ICE flights were “a new single-day high.” Following a devastating appeals court ruling that same day, the unjust deportations of many under the scientifically unsound Title 42 policy stand to continue.
“The complex social, economic, humanitarian and political situation, and the various catastrophes affecting Haiti, some of which are linked to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, have led to different population movements from the Caribbean country in the past decade,” the agencies said. “Haitians on the move in the Americas comprise people with different protection needs, profiles, and motivations, including unaccompanied and separated children, victims of trafficking, and survivors of gender-based violence. Some may have well-founded grounds to request international refugee protection. Others may have other protection needs.”
“Discriminatory public discourse portraying human mobility as a problem risks contributing to racism and xenophobia and should be avoided and condemned,” the agencies continued. Black immigration advocacy groups including UndocuBlack Network, African Communities Together, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and Haitian Bridge Alliance recently filed a civil rights complaint about the abusive treatment of Haitians by U.S. border agents. The complaint cited “verbal abuse and physical violence/intimidation,” denial of access to interpreters, and denial of peoples’ “statutory and international law rights to apply for asylum,” The Grio reported.
“The photos that we are seeing are one example of the horrendous mistreatment that all immigrants face, but especially Black immigrants in custody,” UndocuBlack Network policy and advocacy director Breanne J. Palmer told The Grio.
Hundreds of advocacy groups, nearly 350, had previously called on the Biden administration to halt deportations to Haiti, citing the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2 earthquake the next month. The Obama administration halted Haitian deportations for a year following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. Groups said the Biden administration could do that again. “Starting on January 13, 2010, the day after the earthquake, the U.S. government halted all deportations to Haiti for about a year or longer,” they wrote. “Removals were temporarily halted again in October 2016 after Hurricane Matthew’s devastation.”
The disasters are noted in the statement from the four U.N. agencies. The United Nations Refugee Agency had already issued two statements over the Biden administration’s continued use of the Stephen Miller-pushed Title 42. “This situation is bound to worsen as a result of the 14 August earthquake straining any capacity to receive returning Haitians,” the four agencies continued. “Conditions in Haiti continue to be dire, and not conducive to forced returns.” In a tweet, U.N. Refugee Agency spokesperson Shabia Mantoo wrote that “[i]nternational law prohibits collective expulsions.”
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